Learners’ Self-Esteem Improvement by Constructing Ideal L2 Self-images in Language Learning

  • Yuko Sakamaki Tomoto


This research aims to investigate how learning English and using it as a tool of self-expression improve learners’ self-confidence. Many scholars have stated that speakers are influenced both consciously and unconsciously by the language they speak, and also by the background culture associated with the language. The author has observed that quite a few Japanese people become more self-expressive and self-confident regardless of their language proficiency when they speak English. In order to see the influence of the language on speakers, the author conducted both quantitative and qualitative research. Though the investigation was preliminary, the results suggest that speakers including beginner-level learners are highly influenced by the language they are speaking and its background culture, with these phenomena affecting their self-expressiveness and self-confidence. In a monolingual country like Japan, where English is not necessary for daily life but it is strongly recommended to acquire it, it is not easy to sustain learners’ motivation. However, if we can utilize English learning as a way to support learners not only to improve their language ability and international awareness but also their self-confidence, there may be more positive outcomes from language learning classes.


Adler, P. (1998). Beyond cultural identity: Reflections on cultural and multicultural man. In Gary Weaver (Ed). Culture, communication and conflict, pp.250-265, Needham Heights, MA: Grinn Press
Burton, S.K. (2006). Issues in Cross-Cultural Interviewing: Japanese Women in England. In R. Perks & A. Thomson (Eds.), The Oral History Reader, Second edition. London: Routledge, 166-176
Burton, S. K. (2011). “English makes me act in a different way”: To what extent can a change of language affect speech and behaviour? The Language Teacher: 35.3 May/June 2011. Tokyo: JALT Publications, 31-36
Downs, J. (1971). Culture in Crisis. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Glencoe Press
Ervin-Tripp, S. (1964). An analysis of the interaction of language, topic and listener. American Anthropologist, 6 (2), 500-507
Ervin-Tripp, S. (1967). An Issei learns English. Journal of social issues, 23, 78-90
Fantini, A.E. (1991). Bilingualism: Exploring Language and Culture. In L.M. Malave and G. Duquette (Eds.), Language, Culture and Cognition. Avon: Multilingual Matters, 110-119
Gao, H. (2002). Language Contact – Misunderstanding, Confusion and Conflicts. Intercultural Communication Studies Volume XI: 3. 107-114
Kaplan, R.B. (1966). Cultural Thought Patterns in Inter-Cultural Education. In Language Learning. 16(1-2), Language Learning Research Club, University of Michigan, 1-20
Kelsky, K. (2001). Women on the verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams, Durham, NC: Duke University Press
Kluckhohn, C. and Kelly, W.H. (1945). The Concept of Culture. The Science of Man in the World Crisis, Ralph Linton, Ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 78-106
Matsui, M. (1995). Gender Role Perceptions of Japanese and Chinese Female Students in American Universities. Comparative Education Review 39, No. 3, 356-378
McKinley, J. & Sakamoto, M. (2007). Exploring Language + Identity: Nature of Code-switching among Japanese Students. Bulletin of the Faculty of Foreign Studies, Sophia University, No.42. Tokyo: Sophia University, 1-28
Nakamura, M. (1988). Japanese View of Language and Its Fluence on the Japanese Women.
Keizaikei, No.156, The Society of Economics of Kanto Gakuin University, 113-120
Norton, P. B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29 (1), 9-31
Norton, P. B. (1997). Language, identity and ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 31 (3), 409-429
Pavlenco, A. (2006). Bilingual Minds: Emotional Experience, Expression and Representation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd, 7-8
Tomoto, Y. (2016). Effect of Background Culture in Foreign Language Acquisition. Studies in Comparative Culture, No.123, The Japan Association of Comparative Culture, 125-136
Tomoto, Y. (2020). A Study of How Voice Pitches are Influenced by Cultural Gender Factors.
Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, Vol.2, No.2, 84-91
Tomoto, Y. and Shitasu, Y. (2020). A Multi-perspective Approach to a Short-term English Training Program in the U.S. International Journal of Advanced Research in Education and Society, Vol.2, No.2, 11-22
How to Cite
SAKAMAKI TOMOTO, Yuko. Learners’ Self-Esteem Improvement by Constructing Ideal L2 Self-images in Language Learning. International Journal of Advanced Research in Education and Society, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 2, p. 38-49, june 2021. ISSN 2682-8138. Available at: <https://myjms.mohe.gov.my/index.php/ijares/article/view/13483>. Date accessed: 28 jan. 2022.